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Salonica: Slaves and Trade

Copyright © by Alan Grant
Central market

As a result of joint naval operations "in which the Greek and Ottoman fleets worked together," writes Mark Mazower in his fascinating book about Thesslalonika – or Salonica – "pirates were cleared from the northern Aegean." This was the mid-1830s and once the pirate menace had subsided the tonnage of shipping entering the port increased five-fold over the next three decades. However, as Mazower writes, Greek and Ottoman ship owners then lost out following the introduction of steam power by its French and Austrian owners. Traffic also increasingly began to turn westwards. These were, as this extract shows, years of great change.

Adolphus Slade's fellow-travellers in 1830 to Izmir included five Albanians, a Greek tobacco trader, local Turkish women on the haj, a Maronite bound for Lebanon and an Egyptian slave dealer with nine "negresses" whom he had failed to sell in Salonica. Coffee and spices still came from Yemen, and the Azizeh steamer docked regularly from Alexandria. But the city's orientation was changing. The slave trade, which had linked the city with suppliers from Circassia and the Ukraine to Sudan, Benghazi and the Barbary coast, was targeted by British abolitionists: although it was not formally outlawed until 1880, even before then, slaves had to be smuggled in as domestic servants, or landed furtively outside the town before dawn on the wooden landing –stage in the Beshchinar gardens.

Meanwhile, as local raw materials were exported to western Europe from the hinterland, European manufactures poured in: Manchester cottons and Rouen silks, beer from Austria, watches and jewellery from Switzerland, wine and marble, worsteds and cutlery from Germany, French stationary and perfumes, drugs, billiard tables, cabinets and fancy upholstery. The British consul noted the growing demand for "British-made shoes and boots, felt and straw hats, men's flannels, cotton and linen shirts and vests, handkerchiefs, ties, stockings and socks. " Between 1870 and 1912 the city's imports nearly quadrupled in value.

Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950. Mark Mazower. 2005.
[pp. 225-226 / Harper Perennial]

January 2007
Tim Judah

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  1. Istanbul: Pamuk's City
  2. Istanbul: Swimming across the Bosphorus
  3. Salonika and the Jews
  4. Salonica: Slaves and Trade
  5. Thessalonika: 1923
  6. Ohrid: Rise and Fall
  7. Tornado of Dust - 1944
  8. Awake Romania - 1989
  9. Novi Sad: Nest of the Serbian nation
  10. Nis: War Capital, 1915
  11. Belgrade and the Selenites
  12. 1996: Serbia Calling
  13. Belgrade Train Station - 1964
  14. Srebrenica: Vengeance
  15. Srebrenica: Blood
  16. Srebrenica: July 1995
  17. Mealtime - Interwar years in Travnik
  18. Dayton: The Napkin Shuttle
  19. London Buses in Sarajevo
  20. The Museum and Bosnian Identity
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  22. Kosovo: The Swiss Front
  23. Mitrovica: 1908
  24. Pristina: Kosovo like Namibia?
  25. City without traffic - Pristina 1966
  26. Durham in Pristina - 1908
  27. Tirana: 1962
  28. Zog's Tirana
  29. The Kotor - Constantinople Express
  30. Kotor and the Montenegrins
  31. The Rabbi of Stolac
  32. Dubrovnik: England, Wine and Wool
  33. Cetinje: Nikola Under the Elm
  34. Cetinje: 1858
  35. Dalmatia: Ships & Grapes
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  41. Kosovo
  42. Romania: 1914
  43. Istanbul: Food and the frugal Turks
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  61. 1929: The Balkans and the Great Crash
  62. Rumeli and how the Balkans became the Balkans
  63. 1948: Stalin, Kosovo and Swallowing Albania
  64. Transforming Turkey: the 1950s
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